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How Do I Know if My Old U.S. Coins are Silver?

Today we’re going to discuss another frequently asked question, which is “how do I know if my old U.S. coins are silver?”  This is a good question and one that we’ll discuss in further detail below.

The United States minted all dimes, quarters, and half dollars with 90% silver content through 1964.  Dimes and quarters minted after 1964, unless part of a silver mint set, don’t contain any silver content.  Rather, these coins are a combination of nickel and copper.

A common misconception is that pre-1965 nickels also contain silver content.  This isn’t the case, with the exception of nickels minted during the war years of 1942 – 1945, which contain 35% silver content.  They can be identified by a large mint mark on the reverse of the coin above the Monticello.

Silver wasn’t completely eliminated from U.S. half dollars until 1971; however, the silver content was reduced in 1965 from 90% to 40%.  These are commonly referred to as silver clad coins, as they contain part silver and part nickel and copper.

Silver dollars are slightly different from the previously discussed coins, as 90% silver dollars were only minted until 1935.  Silver dollars minted from 1921 – 1935 are known as Peace Dollars and silver dollars minted prior to this time, extending back to 1878 are termed Morgan Dollars.  The U.S. Mint didn’t commence minting silver dollars until 1971, which are known as Eisenhower silver dollars.  This is somewhat of a misnomer, as only Eisenhower silver dollars minted at the San Francisco Mint contain silver, and are only 40% silver.

We hope that this short piece has helped to answer any questions that you might have regarding the silver content of your U.S. silver coins.  We’ll discuss international silver coins in a future article, which are also known as World or Foreign coins.

Atlanta Gold and Coin Buyers buys all of the silver coins that we’ve discussed above, including foreign, international, world, and commemorative silver coins, so if you’re interested in selling your coins, give us a call today at 404-236-9744 for a free no-obligation evaluation and appraisal.

Tony Davis
Tony Davis